Beware the Frankfurt Airport

Oct 14th, 2017, 04:58 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 814
Beware the Frankfurt Airport

Can’t say I wasn’t warned. On my earlier post, Transiting through FRA, I was told that security is thorough and slow and connections times tight.

On our outward bound flight, YYZ -FRA-NBO on Lufthansa the transit was easy peasy. We were met as we deplaned by an airport/airline employee who directed us on a well signed route that was different than that being followed by most transiting passengers. We arrived at a ground level waiting area--looked rather like a converted warehouse--with plenty of time and were eventually put on a bus and driven to another terminal where we boarded from the tarmac. No security, not even a passport check, only had to show our boarding passes once or twice.

The return trip was another story. We were travelling NBO-FRA-ZUR-YYZ with about 55 minutes connection time in ZUR. We hadn’t been able to check in online so were seated toward the back of the plane, but we hustled from the moment we got off only to be put in a long line for passport check where we had to wait for an agent as their system apparently doesn’t scan Canadian passports. Still waiting as our boarding time approached, I spoke to an airport employee who said “you should be okay” Accepting his false assurance, we got through that line only to be directed to an even longer one for security where a very thorough search was being conducted in a most leisurely manner. Then a mad dash down a long a concourse, down three flights of stairs (didn’t want to wait for the elevator) through a tunnel to another terminal, up the stairs, race to the far end of a concourse, only to arrive sweating and panting and in need of a washroom as the gate agent was packing up her belongs. The plane was no doubt heading down the runway.

We eventually found an open Lufthansa service centre where we were treated courteously, given food vouchers and booked on a direct flight to YYZ. We had to buy an adapter to charge my phone to notify our shuttle service of our late arrival , hang around the airport for several hours, eat some half decent free food, and arrived home weary about 4 hours later than anticipated.

Not a big tragedy in the overall scheme of things, but an experience, and an airport, I would do my best to avoid in the future.
eliztravels2 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2017, 05:00 AM
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That should be 55 minutes connection time in FRA. Sorry, the preview function doesn’t work for me anymore.
eliztravels2 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2017, 06:16 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Looks like the problem was the connecting flight to Zurich which meant you were entering the Schengen zone and couldn't transit airside.

Seems that if you were willing spend 119 euro (!) there might be an alternative:

Sounds like Lufthansa did a good job of taking care of you.
thursdaysd is offline  
Oct 14th, 2017, 04:09 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Good warning to others not to book a 55min connection time that requires going through passport control & security checks.

I don't know if that was a safe connection at any airport.
J62 is online now  
Oct 15th, 2017, 01:20 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 814
This itinerary was purchased directly from Lufthansa on one ticket, so I assumed that because it was ‘legal’ it was realistic. Airport procedures vary, and having done very little transiting in Europe, I was not aware at the time of booking that it would involve security and passport checks (which it did not on the outward bound flights). Obviously Lufthansa was aware, so why they offered this itinerary online is beyond me. Clearly they accepted responsibility for the problem as they rebooked me without hassle and without any cost to me.

Other than the unrealistic connection time, I was quite satisfied with Lufthansa. Their onboard service was excellent.

Had we booked the gate-to-gate escort service, would we have been moved up in the passport and security lines? In other airports I’ve seen passengers in the lines who identify themselves as nearing boarding time being moved along faster.
eliztravels2 is offline  
Oct 15th, 2017, 05:04 PM
Join Date: May 2003
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You didn't transit Europe on the way back. You entered Europe and there was the problem. You had to go through Schengen immigration there, and that slowed you down. If your return itinerary had been the mirror of your outgoing itinerary, in other words NBO-FRA-YYZ, you wouldn't have had this problem. It would have been the breeze that YYZ-FRA-NBO was.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Oct 15th, 2017, 06:43 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Just because a connection time is "legal" doesn't make it a good idea. I wouldn't book that kind of connection because there is enough stress in flying without adding any more unnecessarily. Of course, if you had a passport for one of Schengen countries things would probably have gone faster.

What you were doing was the same as a Chinese national flying Beijing - Toronto - London outbound and London - Toronto - Vancouver - Beijing return. And I don't know about Canada, but if he had been doing it through the US he would have had to have his luggage cleared by customs.

Still, it could have been worse. If there had been no space on the direct flight you might have had to wait until the next day.
thursdaysd is offline  
Oct 16th, 2017, 10:50 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,181
Unfortunately, while 3 hours is plenty of time in Frankfurt, 55 minutes usually isn't (usually with or without security). I looked back at the previous post and it didn't mention having such a short amount of time to go through immigration and security for your onward journey home. I'm actually surprised that this transit was even "legal". I'm glad things worked out for you in the end, but I'm sorry you had such anxiety initially.

I've made a transit in Zurich with 40 minutes (and my plane was 10 minutes late). Swiss held the plane for the connecting passengers, however, or we'd have never made it.
doug_stallings is offline  
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